Mark Drela's Bubble Dancer 3m
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Home > Articles & Tips Index > Mark Drela's Bubble Dancer 3m Sailplane

[Courtesy of Mark Drela, drela "at", Jan  2005 - web presentation by Tomer Jackman, Jackman_Tomer "at"] Photos courtesy of Jeff Newcum

About the Bubble Dancer 3m Glider

Construction notes are included in the drawings, which you can download as Acrobat v6 PDF documents in the links below. If you need a copy of the Adobe Acrobat Reader, you can download it free from


The "Bubble Dancer" RES glider is essentially a big brother of the Allegro-Lite, with a 120" span and 1000 in^2 wing area. The idea was to combine the composite Allegro's layout, some new thin airfoils, and a bit of off-the-shelf carbon. The object was to make a big first-class thermalling ship which could also tolerate wind and strong winching and that anyone could build. The target category was the increasingly popular RES class. Blaine Rawdon and Bill Watson also took part in the design, and the Allegro-Lite wood wing 2m glider was a prototype for this glider.

The design was optimized for ease of construction , resulting in a rather unique glider. At about 31 oz (880 gr) , it has a very low sink rate -- about 0.8 ft/s. A very big 2" x 36" spoiler gives good landing control like on the AL, and it can be seen thermalling very often from hand tosses.

Fuselage pod


Fuselage pod showing servo installation and radio gear, along with Wing saddle, spoiler extension and  switch.



A view of the center section of the wing, with the spoiler closed.


Spoiler open.

Tail and V mount

Vertical tail and Horizontal all moving tail mounted on its V-mount.

Bubble Dancer Airfoils

Airfoil Coordinates CompuFoil COR files Polars
ag35 ag35.dat ag35.cor ag35_polars.pdf
ag36 ag36.dat ag36.cor ag36_polars.pdf
ag37 ag37.dat ag37.cor ag37_polars.pdf
ag38 ag38.dat ag38.cor ag38_polars.pdf
ht21 ht21.dat   Horizontal and vertical tails

Bubble Dancer Fuselage pod coordinates fuseBD.dat

Drawings and Construction Notes

Bubble Dancer plan (Acrobat PDF file) Bubble Dancer drawing (DXF drawing)

Wing plan (Acrobat PDF file) Wing drawing (DXF drawing)

Spar Layup (Acrobat PDF file)

Joiner (Acrobat PDF file)

Joiner Construction (Acrobat PDF file)

Making kevlar tubes for joiners. (Acrobat PDF file)

Fuselage plan (Acrobat PDF file) Fuselage plan (DXF drawing)

Horizontal Tail plan (Acrobat PDF file) and Horizontal Tail drawing (DXF drawing)

Vertical Tail plan (Acrobat PDF file) and Vertical Tail drawing (DXF drawing)

V-mount plan (Acrobat PDF file) V-mount drawing (DXF drawing)


Big wing plan (Acrobat PDF file) Big wing drawing (DXF drawing)

Stick Dancer (Acrobat PDF file) Stick Dancer drawing (DXF drawing)

Bill of materials

Rib sets for laser cutting - The DWG files here contain rib, web, and LE sanding template patterns
for laser cutting.  All patterns have been adjusted to allow for a 12 mil laser kerf.

Panel-break ribs brk_ribs.pdf break_rib.dwg
Center panel ribs cen_ribs.pdf cen_rib.dwg
Center panel shaping templates cen_temp.pdf cen_web.dwg
Mid panel ribs mid_ribs.pdf mid_rib.dwg
Mid panel shaping templates mid_temp.pdf mid_web.dwg
Tip panel ribs tip_ribs.pdf tip_rib.dwg
Tip panel shaping templates tip_temp.pdf -
Tip panel webs - tip_web.dwg



Best of luck, and please let us know how you're doing with your Bubble Dancer!

Document Version History

January 15, 2004 - TJ

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